Create a Livable Yet Stylish Home By Candice Olson

Comfortable and chic don't have to live miles apart. Find simple tips for designing a home that's functional and beautiful.

It's important to make your home both stylish and livable. There is one word that designers either love or hate: function. Personally, I love it. I really believe you can have the right balance of both style and function.
The one thing you need to do when embarking on a design project is to be realistic. Think about this question: How does your house have to work for you and your family? If you're like me with a young, busy family full of kids and pets, you should never have anything white in your house unless you're sure the material is stain resistant.

However, you can find the right mix of function and style. Just make sure you think your design decisions through carefully. If you're a large family that spends all your time doing homework in the kitchen and family room, then a large kitchen island or an open-concept kitchen and family room will probably work really well for you. If you're a retired couple who loves to cook and entertain, your priority might be gorgeous kitchen appliances, so you splurge on a chef's dreamy (and stylish) gas range.
It's important to know what makes the most sense for your lifestyle and home, so don't choose colors, fabrics or even materials that won't work for your family, children or pets. Be realistic about what you can and can't live with because there are some things you might love the look of, that are very stylish, but just aren't practical with a Great Dane. For example, I absolutely love the look of white Carrara marble countertops, but they can be stressful in a kitchen because they stain so easily, especially by red wine or coffee. You don't want to always be on high alert for spills, or be the crazy lady saying, "Don't touch the counters!"

That's not to say if you have a busy lifestyle with kids and pets, you can't have a gorgeous, stylish home. Companies have caught on and now function can be stylish, too. For instance, there are great-looking, durable fabrics that are made to handle extreme wear and tear. Some are even made with Teflon. Sometimes you might pay a little more for a high-performance material that looks great and can stand the test of time. Be smart about it, and if you get a light color sofa (or you had one before the kids came along), consider having a slipcover made that's in a dark, machine-washable fabric.
If you have a hectic home life with lots of activity, think about your choices and always go with the most durable materials you can find. Or tell you kids to stay in their rooms until they're old enough to go to college.

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